Two weeks after Arunachal Pradesh Congress MP Ninong Ering complained that the water of Siang – as the Tsangpo or Brahmaputra is named when it enters India from Tibet – is turning black and others followed suit, the Assam government on Saturday sent water samples from the river to Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, and IIT, Guwahati for further analysis.
Water samples were collected by the state Fire Service department from 15 locations in a 700-km stretch of the Brahmaputra between Jonai and Dhubri during the last few days and sent to the two institutions to test the water and zero in on the causes responsible for the development, a press release issued by the Assam chief minister’s office said. “Upon finding the responsible causes, the report would be submitted to the state government for it to take remedial steps,” it added.
Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh’s State Water Quality Testing Laboratory (SWQTL), Itanagar, had on Wednesday submitted a report on water sample collected from the Siang in Pasighat, which had put its turbidity 482 and iron content at 1.65 mg per litre, and declared the water as unfit for human consumption.
The SWQTL report also said that while iron was not deadly to any aquatic animals at normal levels, “unusually high amounts of iron that exists in the water may lead to adverse changes in colour, odour and taste of water, causing negative effects on aquatic populations, behavior and health.”
It was on November 25 that Ninong Ering, Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying China’s construction of a 1000-km tunnel to divert water of the Brahmaputra had seriously affected water quality of the river. The water of the Siang – as the Brahmaputra is called in Arunachal Pradesh – had become thick, black, muddy and “cement-like” as it entered India, the MP said, asking the prime minister to take “immediate action” in this regard.
“There is no other reason that the mighty Siang should be dirty and black in the month of Novemnber, but has occurred due to heavy excavation on the Chinese side, which has to be verified by an international team,” Ering, in a letter to the prime minister said. He also claimed that fish and other aquatic life had disappeared from the river in the past few weeks.
Gaurav Gogoi, Congress MP from Assam too has sent a letter to PM Modi drawing his attention to the “serious change” in the water quality of the Brahmaputra in the recent few days. He also quoted a report of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to point out that the turbidity of the water had increased unusually, and that residents in some localities in the Assam capital were also complaining of getting “thick whitish muddy water” for the past couple of days.
Gogoi, in his letter also asked Modi to instruct the concerned authorities to urgently conduct tests on the entire length of the Brahmaputra to ascertain toxicity and other pollution parameters in order to prevent any untoward incident. He also asked the prime minister to request the Chinese government to share with India the details of possible downstream impact of construction of hydro-electric projects on the Tsangpo.